The Nahj al-Balagha (Arabic: نهج البلاغة Nahj-ul Balāgha(h), Arabic pronunciation; "Way of Eloquence") is the most famous collection of sermons, letters, tafsirs and narrations attributed to Ali, cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad. It was collected by Sharif Razi, a Shi'i scholar in the tenth century Known for its eloquent content, it is considered a masterpiece of literature in Shi'i Islam, third only to the Quran and Prophetic narrations.
Nahj al-Balaghah comprises various issues that cover major problems of metaphysics, theology, fiqh, tafsir, hadith, prophetology, imamate, ethics, social philosophy, history, politics, administration, civics, science, rhetoric, poetry, and literature. The book not only reflects the spirit of early Islam and the teachings of the Qur'an and the Islamic prophet Muhammad, but also serves as a guide to traverse the future in the light of these teachings.
Nahj al Balagha is a collection of 241 sermons, 79 letters, and 489 utterances. As per each new publishing versus past volumes, the number of sermons, letters and utterances has varied from 238 to 241, 77 to 79, and 463 to 489, respectively.
The book narrates from Ali on a wide variety of topics, ranging from the creation of the World, the creation of Adam, end of the Universe and the arrival of Imam al-Mahdi.
Authenticity: Since the book is a literary work meant to demonstrate Ali ibn Abi Talib's eloquence, it does not gather all of Ali's sermons. Instead, only segments deemed to possess greater literary value are included. introduces some of these.
An alternative sourcing of the book's content by Muhammad Baqir al-Mahmudi represents all of ‘Ali's extant speeches, sermons, decrees, epistles, prayers, and sayings that are found in Nahj al-Balagha. Thus, except some aphorisms, the original source of all the content of Nahj al-Balaghah has been determined.
Nahj al-Balagha was compiled by Sharif Razi, a scholar in the tenth century. Over 300 years after Ali. Until then the sermons had been transmitted orally, between the generations and the wording was therefore open to change and misinterpretation. There is no chain of narration. The last few pages were left empty, Sharif Razi says incase he came across new Sermons; highlighting that Sharif Razi wrote down anything he came across. Sharif Razi did not follow the same level of scrutiny as followed by Hadith collectors therefore Nahj al-Balagha was not regarded as Sahih (authentic or correct) to the level of the Hadith collections.
Several scholars have sought to trace back the sources of different utterances and letters collected in Nahj al-balaghah to the works compiled centuries before the birth of Sharif Razi. The most painstaking research in this context was done by an Indian Sunni scholar Imtiyaz Ali Arshi,who died in 1981.
He succeeded in tracing back the early sources of 106 sermons, 37 letters and 79 dispersed sayings of Ali ibn Abi Talib in his book Istinad-e Nahj al-balaghah, originally written in Urdu, subsequently translated into Arabic in 1957, then into English and Persian.
Besides this work, some others deserve special mention such as Abd al-Zahra al-Husayni al-Khatib's Masadir Nahj al-balaghah,
Hibat al-Din al-Shahristani's Ma huwa Nahj al-balaghah, Sayyid Ali al-Naqawi al-Nasirabadi's introduction to the Urdu translation of Nahj al-balaghah by Mufti Jafar Husayn, and al-Mujam al-mufahras li alfaz Nahj al-balaghah, a joint work of al-Sayyid Kazim al-Muhammadi and al-Shaykh Muhammad Dashti. Sayyid Mohammad Askari Jafery and Sayyid Ali Reza also dealt with the issue of basic sources of Nahj al-balaghah in their prefaces to their separate translations of the book into English.
1. Imam Ahmed Ibne Mohammed-ul-Wayree (about 470 A.H.)
2. Abul Hassan Ali-ibne-Abul Qasim-ul-Ba'ehaquee (565 A.H.) His commentary is quoted by Moajum-ul-Adibba of Yaqooth-e¬Hamveenee- Vol. 13,
page 225,printed in Egypt.
3. Fakhruddin Razi (606 A.H.) His commentary is quoted by:
(i) Akhbar-ul-Hukama of Ibn-ul-Quftee page 192 printed in Egypt.
(ii) Oyoonul-Ambia of Ibn-e-Abi-Sabee'a page 25, printed in Egypt.
4. Abdul Hameed Hibathullah Mohammed-ibne-Mohammed ibne-Abil Hadeed-Moathazalee, (known as Ibne-Abil Hadeed 655 A.H.). His commentary is a world famous classic covering 17 volumes, printed half-a-dozen times in Cairo, Beirut, Tehran and Isfahan.
5. Shaikh Kamal-ul-din Abdul Rehman Shaybenee (about 705 A.H.)
6. Sad-ud-din Taftazani (797 A.H.)
7. Quazi of Baghdad Shaikh Quewaam-ud-din.